Chicago to Implement CIPP Pilot Programs

Chicago, IL, one of the largest cities in the US with a population of almost three million people, has been struggling with a problem common to older municipalities – replacing crumbling sewer lines and house laterals. 

In June of this year, Chicago’s Department of Water Management announced that the sewers in some of the residential areas of the city would be replaced and that the crews would need to dig large trenches to replace the lines, necessitating the removal of many mature trees.

Chicago residents were understandably dismayed at the prospect of losing their trees and appealed to their City representatives for help.  Digging trenches to replace old lines had already caused an uproar in some Chicago neighborhoods. One city Alderman recalls having received phone calls from his constituents who were distressed that the city crews were removing more than a dozen mature trees on one city block to make way for trenching.

Many people questioned the Department of Water Management’s apparent reluctance to use CIPP when so many other municipalities were using it with great success.  One news report quoted a spokesperson for the City of Toronto as having said that Toronto has successfully used CIPP since 2003 and has expanded their program “to line approximately 24 to 31 miles of piping a year.”  Other municipalities close to Chicago such as Lombard, Evanston, Arlington Heights, and Rockford likewise use CIPP technology to rehabilitate sewer lines.

The other cities using CIPP technology cited the many benefits of lining rather than digging and replacing deteriorated sewers and laterals, calling it “a less costly solution than full replacement”:

  • No need to excavate entire sections of road
  • Keeps construction related disruptions to pedestrian and vehicular traffic to a minimum
  • Minimal disruption of water service to businesses and residents
  • Deterioration of roads, which can sometimes occur with trenching, is eliminated or minimized

Chicago Mayor Lightfoot’s office responded with a statement:

“Under the leadership of Mayor Lightfoot, the Department of Water Management will continue to look for ways to reduce invasive environmental impacts on our communities, ensure water quality for residents, and adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.”

In July, two of Chicago’s Aldermen garnered considerable support for their proposed ordinance requiring the City to conduct a pilot program “of at least 10,000 feet of testing”.  The proposed ordinance would require the results of the pilot program be presented to City Council by July 2020. It would also place a hold on any water main projects that require the removal of trees.

In September, the City announced that the Water Department would be conducting pilot programs to the test CIPP liners.  The pilot programs, to be conducted by “an outside consultant” will begin in Spring of 2020. One test is to be conducted in a commercial area and the other test will take place in a residential area.

Water Commissioner Randy Connor was quoted as saying:

“The Department of Water Management remains committed to protecting water quality and responding to the needs of the communities we serve. We are excited to expand our approach to results-driven construction practices based on the findings of these pilots.”

There are a number of cities already enjoying the many benefits of CIPP, as reported in Trenchless Technology.  Tom Wynne of New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection recently said that:

 “We have doubled our commitment to CIPP.  In doing a life-cycle analysis, we realized that there is no way to keep on top of 7,000 miles of sewer with open-cut. The ability to reline the pipes has helped us bridge that gap.”

City of Columbus, OH Project Manager Nick Domenick adds that:

“The use of CIPP is increasing for us as we are now addressing laterals. The mainline work has remained steady over the years but by addressing laterals there is going to be an expansion of the magnitude of work that we are bidding each year. We will be bidding several thousand laterals per year.”

More and more cities are using CIPP technology to rehabilitate their aging water infrastructure, and the number is expected to continue to grow. 

This growing demand presents obvious opportunities for contractors to provide a true no-dig method of pipe lining to municipalities and homeowners alike.

To find out how to become a Formadrain licensee, contact Bruce Stevenson, Business Development Manager, at 1-888-450-3986 or email Bruce@formadrain.com.